Monti is the neighbourhood to the south and south-west of the Hotel Colombia and Termini station, as far as the Colosseum (my city map here, map of neighbourhoods here). I’m told it’s an up-and-coming area amongst the trendsetters. It’s certainly very multicultural with lots of ethnic restaurants in the area. Below I review an Indian restaurant, three Irish pubs and a dodgy Italian to avoid.
Maharajah (Intermediate A), 124 Via Serpenti, www.maharajah1.com
There are three Indian restaurants in this area of town, but this one is the best. It even gets a mention in the Gambero Rosso guide, a rare accolade for a non-Italian restaurant. My visit was in 2011 but it was still open in 2020 when I last checked.
The service is very attentive. Upon arrival I got a complimentary glass of Prosecco as well as the usual pickle tray and papadoms. There are lots of tempting dishes on offer in the leather-bound à la carte menu but make sure you check out the three tasting menus they have on offer; veg, meat and fish, which all sound very good, and in the range of €20-24 so very reasonable. I went for the meat option and received a drumstick of Tandoori Chicken, a Rogan Josh, a Saag Aloo and a Channa Dahl with pilau rice and naan, all excellent.
There were lots of Indian families eating here too which further recommends the place. The atmosphere is luxurious but the lighting is a little dark. In short, a posh restaurant selling refined but authentic Indian food that’s very good value for money.
There are three Irish pubs in the area, all with the same owner. I think the best craic is probably to be had at The Fiddler’s Elbow at 43 Via dell’ Olamata. It’s a dive and the beer isn’t great but it has more atmosphere than the others and they often stay open till 1am or later. Some punters sometimes bring Irish instruments for a jam in the back room. The Druid’s Den around the corner at 5 Via Sant Martino ai Monti is ok too but smaller whereas the nearer Druid’s Rock at 1 Piazza dell Esquilino is the best place for watching football.
And one to avoid…
Ristorante al Viminale (Intermediate C), 3 via Palermo (down the side of the Minestero Interno)
In 2011, this was the cheapest Italian restaurant I found near the Hotel Columbia so I gave it a whirl for research purposes. The €15 Menu Touristico gives you a choice of one first and one second course but no drinks. There’s no cover charge either, but you still get some tasteless unsalted bread. I had their Rigatoni Amatriciana which was overcooked, and the breaded cutlet was very poor and served with cold chips. The red wine was just about drinkable at €4 a half litre. The only atmosphere was provided by Milan vs Roma on the TV. No need to reserve, the place was empty when other better places nearby had queues outside.
I’ve also been warned off Trattoria del Venezia just around the corner at 21 Via Venezia.
Don’t say you weren’t warned! Some better places next…